Jesse Love claimed his sixth victory of the season last weekend at Michigan International Speedway and extended his points lead to 82 markers over Frankie Muniz, who reclaimed the runner-up spot in the points standings following his first career top-five finish.
After 100 laps in Brooklyn, Mich., here’s how the top contenders rank out after 11 of the 2023 ARCA season’s 20 events.
1. Jesse Love
It can hardly be overstated how successful Love’s season has been to date. The California native has won a series-best six races on the season, including the series’ most recent event in Michigan, and he leads the points standings by the widest margin anyone has held over second place all year in 82 points.
Love also leads nearly every other meaningful statistic including top fives, top 10s, laps led and average finish. His 749 laps led is perhaps the most staggering of all his impressive statistics, as his total nearly triples his next closest competitor in that category in William Sawalich (who has led 268 laps).
The No. 20 Venturini Motorsports team has hardly faltered all season, and it shows no signs of slowing down now. With back-to-back wins at Pocono Raceway and Michigan, Love has continued to widen his points lead and sit atop our power rankings.
2. Frankie Muniz
Several factors made it tough to delineate who exactly should sit second in the power rankings, as both Muniz and Perez de Lara had solid showings at Michigan, despite Perez de Lara not getting the result to show for it. The nod goes to Muniz, however, on the basis of the momentum he seemingly gained in scoring his career-best finish of fifth.
After an early incident as a result of his overaggression, Muniz found himself in a disadvantaged position towards the beginning of the race in Michigan. However, he persevered and was able to avoid the melee that broke out around him late in the race to score his first top-five finish.
Although Muniz had been knocking on the door of the top-five finishing positions all year long with four sixth-place efforts to his credit, finally being able to secure a top five will surely do wonders for his confidence.
Having just scored a career-best finish and retaken the runner-up points position, Muniz and his Rette Jones Racing team will certainly carry some newfound momentum into the home stretch of the ARCA season.
3. Andres Perez de Lara
As mentioned above, it was only after careful consideration that Perez de Lara was slotted down to third and Muniz was promoted to second in the power rankings, as Perez de Lara put on an impressive showing before having his day ruined at Michigan by a sour engine.
The Mexican driver started from the pole and led laps at Michigan, and he even found himself in a position to win late in the race before his hopes were dashed by mechanical troubles.
Although he dropped back to third in the points standings, Perez de Lara only seems to be improving as the season progresses. With competitive efforts at both Pocono and Michigan, Perez de Lara and his Rev Racing team appear to be inching closer to scoring a breakthrough victory.
As he gains experience and becomes more comfortable racing toward the front, look for Perez de Lara to perhaps steal a few wins away from Love later this season.
4. William Sawalich
Although he has not been competing in the series full-time, William Sawalich has proved in his spot starts that he is one of few drivers in ARCA right now who is in a position to challenge Love on a weekly basis.
Sawalich is perhaps the only driver to be able to match Love on speed, and he even bested Love for the victory at Berlin Raceway earlier this year. With top-10 efforts in four of his five starts this year, Sawalich has also been able to pair that speed with consistency.
As noted earlier, the young Minnesota driver has tallied 268 laps led in his limited starts, and that is good enough for second most across the series as his total exceeds that of all full-time competitors except Love.
Provided how fast he has been in his select appearances, it is realistic to expect Sawalich to contend for a few more wins over the remainder of the season. When he becomes of age to compete full-time, Sawalich will surely become a threat to win regularly and ascend our future power rankings.
5. Andy Jankowiak
Andy Jankowiak perhaps isn’t a name anyone expected to be in the top five of any ARCA power rankings, but here we are more than halfway into the season and the Tonawanda, NY driver is coming off three straight top-10 finishes in his last three starts, including top fives at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Michigan.
Driving for part-time team KLAS Motorsports, Jankowiak has put together an excellent stretch lately. His small team has punched way above its weight class to be running right up toward the front with the likes of VMS and Joe Gibbs Racing.
Although Jakowiak was certainly the beneficiary of some late-race attrition at Michigan, his fourth-place run can not be discredited solely on this basis, as he ran solidly in the top 10 and even up into the top five throughout the day.
Stories like that of Jankowiak are part of what makes ARCA so special, as the series provides a platform for local heroes and perennial short-track contenders to showcase their talent and potential on a national stage. Although Jankowiak’s background as a pizza delivery man has been belabored at this point by the media, his humble beginnings and the small scale of his operation only magnify the impressiveness of his latest results.
ARCA will return to action this Friday, Aug. 11 at 6 p.m. ET for the Reese’s 200 from the Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park. The race will air live on Fox Sports 1 and the Fox Sports App. Be sure to tune in and catch all the action as the ARCA competitors get set to do a short-track battle at IRP this Friday.
About the author
A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.